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Installments: The evolution of moldings

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Bill Treiber

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.55.10 PMFor many years, ¾-inch solid wood flooring was seen as the primary leader of hard surface floors. Back in the 1600s, many of these hardwood floors were installed directly on dirt and the need for transitions did not exist. It wasn’t until the introduction of the International Building Codes (IBC) in the early 1970s that states began to adopt concerns for transitions on flooring. These codes quickly followed the carpet industry’s emergence into the residential markets, which exploded in the 1960s. Until that time, many of the transitions on the market were done on the jobsite by the flooring installer. And with carpet’s rapid growth came many changes to the industry. In addition to rolled vinyl, laminate flooring was becoming more and more popular. Since these products were primarily made of plastic, transitions were also becoming available.

Let us fast forward to today; we now have a plethora of sizes, shapes, species, materials and designs in moldings that cover tile, stone, luxury tile, luxury plank, laminates, porcelain and engineered woods. One of the newest inventions, waterproof laminates, is about to make a bigger splash than many recent upgrades in technology in our industry. With this large selection of surfaces to offer, we have created a growing need for more moldings in a greater variety of shapes and sizes.

Before the need for transitions experienced tremendous growth, there were four primary profiles: ¾-inch solid wood sand and finish on-site reducers, T-moldings, stair nosings and square nosings. Square nosings were introduced to accommodate the edge created from carpet and, eventually, laminate flooring.

I remember having contractors come in and ask for landing tread material back in the ’80s and ’90s when I was working for true hardwood distributors. Then five minutes later, another contractor would ask for bull nosing. They were essentially asking for the same thing. Yes, the bull nosing could have meant only the

1½-inch nosing portion used for adding to treads which are to be installed on an open stairway. I share this piece of information because terms and variety of profiles available to the flooring industry has grown just like the number of products being made.

Due to growing demand, profiles of moldings are taking on a more modern look. Tight radius-edged profiles will include names like square-edged stair nosing. There are countless thicknesses being introduced including variable height profiles like an adjustable mini stair nosing or a multi-height stair nosing. Because of many 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm thick products, mini T-Moldings, mini square nosings, bi-level reducers and flush LVT/LVP stair nosing products will enter the market with different mediums. You will definitely see more wood locking stair nosing and locking cork wrapped flush stair nosing in the near future.

You should continue to look for upgrades in ingenuity and function from flooring accessories. Look for better custom blending to evolve into the moldings manufacturer sector. The ability of a manufacturer to blend a highly functioning molding in the flooring industry today has undoubtedly separated the old moldings of the past with more modern, less obtrusive, yet highly functioning profiles we have now.

As the flooring industry continues to grow, so does the flooring accessories segment. Make sure you are receptive to change and open to new ideas. Rest assured that your experience with the new surfaces will continue to expand as the flooring accessory business grows in response to conscious expertise.